Barkha Dutt gets “chilling veiled threats”, asks “Is this my country?”

Senior journalist Barkha Dutt on June 7 said she had received chilling veiled threats and “messages” from powerful people in the Establishment today that she and her family were under surveillance

Photo by Saumya Khandelwal/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Saumya Khandelwal/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
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NH Web Desk

Senior Indian journalist and editor Barkha Dutt on June 7 posted a series of five explosive tweets on micro-blogging social media website Twitter, saying she had received chilling veiled threats and “messages” from powerful people in the Establishment that she and her family were under surveillance. Dutt is presently a Contributing Columnist for The Washington Post and Contributing Editor for The Week, according to her Twitter bio. The senior journalist, familiar to many Indians from her years as an senior editor and anchor on TV news channel NDTV, added that a big meeting had been held on how to stop her and her projects. Dutt added that she hoped Information and Broadcasting Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore would take note of the chilling threats.

"Received chilling veiled threats and "messages" from powerful people in the Establishment today that my family and I are under surveillance, and that I will be smeared and maligned to stop me from starting any new projects. Was advised to get my house debugged. Is this my country?

“Those who conveyed the message to me today said a big meeting was held on how to stop me and my projects. I was told tools will include tapping my phone, income tax cases, smear, surveillance. was advised debugging and personal security and to not proceed with my new work.

“All this while I though Indian Democracy would keep me safe and keep my rights as a private citizen intact. Today it is conveyed to me that sections of the Establishment have decided to use any tool available to stop me from working. I am placing this in the public domain.

“I never thought the day would come when in my own country, I would be told to hire private security and get my house debugged. I suppose I should be ready for phone taps, IT cases, ED raids, death threats. The meeting held by those who wield power have said- stop her work projects.

“I hope Rajyavardhan Rathore as I&B Minister takes notes of chilling threats conveyed to me on the plans within on how to stop me from working in TV news. And if the government is tapping my phones and bugging my house—it is grossly illegal and a violation of my privacy. Thank you.”

Dutt’s tweets can be seen below:

BizAsiaLive recently reported that Dutt was "reportedly planning to launch her own English news channel in India.”

India in 2018 fell to 138/180 rank in Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index, which alleges that hate speech targeting Indian media is amplified on social media by troll armies in PM Modi’s “pay”. India is coloured red on the World Press Freedom Index map 2018, indicating a severe threat to independent journalism. For years now, trolls have been routinely singling out and targetting Dutt on Twitter. The Reporters Without Borders report underscored the growing influence of “strongmen” and an eagerness to follow China’s methods of silencing criticism.

*This article was updated at 1.43 pm on June 7, 2018, to add the last two paragraphs

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Published: 7 Jun 2018, 1:27 PM
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